The easiest thing to do in any part of the world is to criticize. Vijay Mallaya has been trolled for days on end and everybody has criticized him.

When you inherit such large sums of money it does not mean you inherit the necessary talent to run the business. If VM wanted to enjoy his money he should (could) have sold his shares (he had a gold mine even when he was born ) and enjoyed a great life style. However, Indians do not make that choice. They decide to ‘work’ to ‘grow’ their business.

He must have been surrounded by people from his father’s generation who thought of him as an unworthy heir. Ditto Rahul Gandhi. In this mess of his father’s advisers the poor kid VM was thrown in and he got ‘advice’ on how to run it. Remember he grew the alcohol business and had a good market share – hence the nice deal with Diageo.

His advisers pushed him into (ok you can ask him why he entered the business) various businesses where he had no clue how to run them. One such deal that I saw very closely was the Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers. IFCI which was the lead agency was the lead agency for a hotel in Goa and I was in touch with Mr. K who gave the deal a little reluctantly to Mr. Mallaya. Mr. K felt that the valuation was fine, but the buyer did not have the competence. Saying all this because this is a 27 year old story.

Kingfisher had many good employees who were a break away group from Jet Airways and lets face it, it was a great airline. Remember UB Air? it was let down by its employees and then by the promoter too? not clear…but I know they lost the license.

Was there corruption among the employees in the Kingfisher group? Heard many many stories and at least some of them were believable. Obviously naming and shaming is not my job, so will let it go.

Was he a good businessman? Not so sure, but he was no pushover. Yes he maintained a great lifestyle, but hey that is the luck of the womb. If you are criticizing him, ensure it is not subtle jealousy. Diageo paid a huge premium to take over the Spirits business, yes VM had built it and had of course earned it. VM also sold his minority stake in a few companies – companies which father had built.

No international company pays Rs. 500 crores as non compete to a joker. It is just to ensure that VM does not enter the spirits business. Sure you can call it whatever you want, but this is VM’s earnings. Any way that you look at it, this is a huge amount.

By the way he has not walked into the sunset, he has just walked away.

Did he default money to the banks? of course they did. Should they have lent money to him at all for such a risky business is a better question to ask. Should the oil companies have given oil? I do not know.

It is not easy doing business in this country. Your employees, your competitors, etc. everybody is out to get you. MDA and ADA turned out to be different..but ADAG has destroyed wealth and MDA has also been a poor shareholder value deliverer.

Business is risky. As long as we do not allow ‘business bankruptcy’ and being able to separate the wealth of the promoter we will have such instances.

No clue what is happening to Yash Birla. Another reluctant heir. Like Uddhav Thackrey..or Ra Ga urf Pappu..

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  1. Dear subra,
    What u write makes lots of sense. Diageo, has the financial heft to seek the best advise,it has spent decades in liquor business to understand the complexity of this market. It was present in India for few years before buying US.
    The premium it paid was high enough initially.
    This new payment seems to be to make headache disappear.

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